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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Licensing and Regulatory Committee held on 20/11/2007
Licensing Act 2003 - Public Consultation on Review of the Council's Statement of Licensing Policy



APPENDIX A

WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

LICENSING AND REGULATORY COMMITTEE – 20TH NOVEMBER 2007
EXECUTIVE – 4TH DECEMBER 2007
COUNCIL – 11TH DECEMBER 2007

Title:
LICENSING ACT 2003 - PUBLIC CONSULTATION ON REVIEW OF THE COUNCIL’S
STATEMENT OF LICENSING POLICY
[Wards Affected: All]


Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

(Exempt) Annexes 3 and 4 to this report contain exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in paragraph 5 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, namely:-

Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings


Summary and Purpose

The purpose of this report is to enable the Council to consider comments on the three-year review of the Statement of Licensing Policy for Waverley, against which applications for licences under the 2003 Licensing Act (the Act) are considered.


E-Government implications:

There are no direct e-government implications in this report, although the Statement of Licensing Policy and opportunities to comment on it have been made both to interested parties, and via the Waverley web site. Application forms under the Licensing Act 2003 are accessible via the web site, although these are often submitted by organisations using the forms available from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport instead.

Resource and legal implications:

There are no immediate resource implications in this report. There are legal implications for the Council in that it will need to be prepared to defend the revised Policy, if challenged. Members will note that the existing Policy has worked well for the past three years, and has stood the test when applications have been subject to appeal in the Magistrates’ Court. There are also Human Rights considerations in the new processes under this Act, and these will be taken into account.

Statement of Licensing Policy - public consultation

1. The existing Statement of Licensing Policy was approved by the Council in December 2004, following a period of public consultation. A copy of the current Policy has been issued to members of this Committee as part of the Licensing Information Pack, handed out at training sessions. It has been a key document during the transfer of licensing functions from the Magistrates Court to the Council as ‘Licensing Authority’. However, the legislation obliges licensing authorities to review their licensing policies on a three-year cycle.

2. A copy of the existing Statement of Licensing Policy, incorporating the changes proposed (1) by the Responsible Authorities at the initial stage, and (2) amendments from your officers to reflect the revised Government Guidance issued on 28th June 2007, and (3) amendments recommended by your officers in response to the consultation responses, is attached at Annexe 1. The changes are shown in bold type and underlined.

3. The consultation has been by a written process to all Responsible Authorities, bodies representing existing licence holders, representatives of registered clubs, businesses and residents in the Borough, Town and Parish Councils, others who have expressed interest, and via the Waverley web site.

4. There have been some 14 written responses to the consultation. Of these, 6 have come from Responsible Authorities, 3 have come from national associations and company representatives, none from local residents and 3 from parish councils. Several letters of ‘no comment’ have been submitted.

5. The letters of representation and a summary of the comments received during this review are set out in Annexe 2, together with officer comments on these and proposals for change, where appropriate.

6. Surrey Police have commented that they are pleased with the way the Act was implemented within Waverley, and have highlighted how some notable successes have been achieved in relation to licensed premises in the Borough. Most importantly, the Police have confirmed that they do not see any need for the Council to consider introducing a special policy in respect of ‘cumulative impact’, but that they would like references to the need to keep the position on this under review retained within the Policy.

Legal Implications

6. The possible legal implications are set out in (Exempt) Annexe 3, and further legal advice, addressing some of the comments made in the representations, is attached at (Exempt) Annexe 4. The Council's Statement of Licensing Policy is a key framework within which the Council considers applications. This is also made up of the four licensing objectives detailed in the Act, as set out below, and guidance issued by the Secretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) under Section 182. This guidance has recently been revised and reissued. Officers have proposed amendments to the Policy where appropriate in the light of the revised guidance. The four Licensing Objectives are listed below:-

Prevention of Crime and Disorder
Public Safety
Prevention of Nuisance
Protection of Children from Harm.

Crime and Disorder and Noise Implications

7. Alcohol related crime and anti-social behaviour was a significant problem in parts of the Borough before the introduction of the new legislation. As a result, Surrey Police has worked in partnership with Waverley to ensure that the potential for extended licensing hours did not make this situation worse. The Council has used its powers under the Licensing Act to pursue two of the key licensing objectives of preventing crime and disorder and preventing public nuisance, working in close conjunction with its partners under these Licensing Objectives, namely Surrey Police and the Environmental Health Section. This close working has been via a two- or three-pronged approach, as needed, which has proved very effective. The Licensing Enforcement Officer’s input has been used as an added tool, in that he is removed from the responsible authorities and can therefore have an independent and added impact where problems arise in licensed premises.

8. The Council has agreed a Licensing Enforcement Protocol with Surrey Police, Surrey Fire and Rescue Service, Environmental Health and Surrey Trading Standards, whereby enforcement activity is targeted and its results monitored. All agencies, and the Town Councils, are invited to meet monthly, as the Town Centre Disorder Group (TCDG), in order to review any problems arising during the previous month. This meeting is co-ordinated by the Police and led by the Borough Inspector. Reports from the public are shared at meetings of the Group. A “traffic lights” priority system is then agreed to target enforcement resources.

9. The result has been a very focused partnership-working approach, which has also involved working with licensees through the four Pubwatch schemes in the Borough. Information gathering to measure the impact of the legislation was enhanced, and evidence was reviewed monthly at meetings of the TCDG of problems related to alcohol. Unfortunately, because of changes to the way information has been recorded and to other approaches to enforcement by the Police, it is not possible to compare figures over the full two year period of introduction of the new law. However, Environmental Health have produced figures for noise nuisance for this period, and these can be found attached to their consultation response in Annexe 2. The national media have drawn attention to the impact on accident and emergency (A & E) unit workloads, but it has not been possible to produce any meaningful information relating to the local A & E units.

10. The legislation has also enabled the Council to take a co-ordinated view of the impact of all of the licensed activities, such as late night refreshment and this has contributed to reducing crime and nuisance in town centres. This is closely monitored at the TCDG.

Fees and licences - for background information

11. For information, the fees for licences set by the Government under the Licensing Act 2003 are as follows, together with some facts and figures to date:-

Fee Duration

Personal licences 37 10 years

Premises licence and 100-635 depending Life of business
Club Premises Certificate on rateable value

Premises annual fee 70-350 depending 1 year
on rateable value (with
additional fee for very
large events)

Variations/transfers 23

Temporary event notices 21 each event Up to 96 hours
for one event

12. Certain premises are exempt from premises licence fees. These are generally village, parish, and community halls for providing regulated entertainment only. They are not exempt from temporary event notice fees.

13. During the transitional period from February to November 2005 all premises and people acting as designated premises supervisors needed to obtain new licences, both personal and premises licences. Processing these and inspecting premises posed a major challenge. The legislation went ‘live’ on 24th November 2005. To date around 700 personal licences, and around 490 premises licences have been issued in Waverley, along with a continuing succession of variations to licences, premises supervisors and transfers of licences (ownership issues). Around 1100 temporary event notices (TENs) have been dealt with since introduction of the legislation in November 2005, with an average now of around 550 - 600 TENs a year.

14. Since 24th November 2005, four appeals have been lodged at the Magistrates’ Court against decisions of the various Licensing Sub-Committees:-

House of Blues, Godalming – Appeal against decision to grant variation application subject to conditions and restricted hours – Appeal allowed The Plough, Farnham – Appeal against refusal to extend hours and remove embedded restrictions – Appeal withdrawn Bramley Social Club – Appeal against decision to attach certain condition to a Club Premises Certificate – Parties agreed to amend conditions by consent. Farncombe Progressive Club – Appeal against revocation of Club Premises Certificate following Police review – Appeal dismissed.

15. The Government has stated that the licence fees income received should cover all Council costs, including the consultation exercise. This is a general principle for all licensing although it is rarely achieved. The Council’ budget book shows that the Council recovers only around 75% of its Licensing Act 2003 costs from the fee structure. The income and expenditure issue is looked at during budget consideration in the autumn of each year.

Human Rights Implications

16. The Human Rights Act 1998 incorporated into English law the protection of human rights enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The Council must have regard to the human rights of individuals affected by its decisions. Although there are no direct implications in this report, the Council will have regard to the following matters in considering applications for licences under the Licensing Act 2003.

17. Article 1 of the First Protocol of the ECHR provides for the protection of private property and possessions. In addition to Article 1 of the First Protocol, the Council must comply with the principles of Article 6, which provides for the right to a fair hearing in determining civil rights and obligations. This necessitates a fair and public hearing undertaken within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law. In providing for determination of licensing matters by a local authority the legislation also provides for appeal to the magistrates’ court, so that there is access to an independent and impartial tribunal and a public hearing.

18. Article 8 of the Convention says that everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence. Accordingly, when making decisions on the grant of licences, the Council (the Committee) will consider representations on the effect of businesses on the amenities of residents living in the vicinity of premises which benefit from the licences.

Conclusion

19. The Committee is asked to consider the comments on the Statement of Licensing Policy and make its recommendations for amending the Policy to the Executive. The Policy is ultimately set by the Council as part of the Policy Framework, on the recommendation of the Executive, and the activity under the Policy is the remit of this Committee and its Licensing Act Sub-Committees.

Recommendation

It is recommended that the Licensing and Regulatory Committee consider the representations in Annexe 2 to this report and make recommendations to the Executive so that the final revised version of the Statement of Licensing Policy for Waverley can be approved by the Council and be formally adopted in time for the statutory implementation deadline of 7th January 2008.



Background Papers (CEx)

Waverley’s Statement of Licensing Policy and representations received in response to the consultation.


CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: Mr Daniel Bainbridge Telephone: 01483 523235
E-mail: dbainbridge@waverley.gov.uk
Mrs Rosemary Hughes Telephone: 01483 523225
E-mail: rhughes@waverley.gov.uk



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